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01 Jun

How Ethical Is ILYSM?

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How sustainable and ethical is ILYSM? Maker of the famous split-toe Tabi sneakers is making a start on sustainability but has some catching up to do for workers. This article is based on the ILYSM rating published in May 2022.

ILYSM is taking steps in the right direction

Community-driven sneaker brand ILYSM is known for its split-toe or “Tabi” sneakers in neutral and colourful silk and vegan ranges. On its About page, ILYSM says: “We bring balance and purpose to every step you take with beautiful materials, functional integrity, innovative technology, and sustainable practices.”

It sounds promising, but let’s step behind the scenes and see if the brand practices what it preaches regarding people, planet, and animal impact. How sustainable and ethical is ILYSM?

Environmental impact

ILYSM is making a start for the environment, reaching our middling score of “It’s a Start”. It uses a medium proportion of eco-friendly materials in its products, including recycled cotton and TENCEL™ Lyocell. While it doesn’t appear to minimise packaging or take any specific steps to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, its use of eco-friendly materials reduces its climate impact and limits the amount of chemicals, water, and wastewater used in production.

Labour conditions

The weakest area for ILYSM is labour conditions. Rated “Not Good Enough”, the brand doesn’t appear to have a Code of Conduct, though it has a formal statement covering worker’s rights and traces and visits suppliers in the final production stage. It sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse, like China. Although it states that “the average wage at our factory is 3.44x the minimum wage in Guangzhou, China”, there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage across its supply chain.

Animal welfare

Coming out on top is the brand’s animal welfare rating, reaching “Good”. ILYSM doesn’t use fur, leather, down, exotic animal skin, exotic animal hair, or angora. It uses wool and silk in some products, but most of its range is marketed as vegan-friendly.

Overall rating: It’s a Start

Overall, we have awarded ILYSM a score of “It’s a Start” overall based on our own research. With “up to 135 workers touching each sneaker during the assembly process”, we’d like to see evidence the brand supports every one of them. Increasing its proportion of eco-friendly materials and removing or tracing the animal-based ones would also help its sustainability journey.

Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

See the rating.

If you want to shop more in line with your values, Good On You recommends you support brands that embrace a more ethical and sustainable fashion model. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite similar brands to ILYSM.

Good swaps

“Good” and “Great” alternatives to ILYSM

Conscious Step

Rated: Good
Pair of white and black socks hanging on a line by Conscious Step.

Conscious Step creates premium fair trade, organic vegan socks and clothes which support great charities. The US brand is committed to lasting social and environmental change and every step it takes in its production process supports farms and factories with fair wages, safe facilities, and lower-impact materials.

The socks come in S-L sizes, and the clothes in 2XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Conscious Step.


Rated: Good

Fashion and responsible production can go together and Womsh is the brand that proves it. Its shoes are entirely designed and manufactured in Italy, and its clothing range is made from lower-impact fabrics like organic cotton.

Find most shoes in EU sizes 35-42, and clothes in XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Womsh.


Rated: Good
yellow sustainable skate shoes by Cariuma brand

CARIUMA is a more sustainable Brazilian sneaker brand that wants you to feel super comfortable while providing effortless style in organic canvas, leather, and suede styles.

Find CARIUMA's shoes in US sizes 5-13.

See the rating.


Plant Faced Clothing

Rated: Good

Streetwear without the sweatshops, that's the motto of this British 100% vegan and cruelty-free streetwear apparel brand that is all about promoting a new wave of consciousness that supports the non-harming or exploitation of any beings in fashion production.

Buy Plant Faced Clothing in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Plant Faced Clothing.


Rated: Great
person wearing blue and white ethical sneakers by Etiko

Etiko is an Australian designer of organic fair trade clothing and shoes. The brand constantly sets the bar for upholding and campaigning the human rights of people working in traditionally exploitative industry supply chains.

Find the clothes in AU sizes 8-20, and the shoes in UK sizes 3-13.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.


Rated: Good
Someone on roof wearing clothes by Afends.

Born in Byron Bay, Australia, Afends is a more responsible brand leading the way in hemp fashion. Drawing inspiration from the environment, streetwear, and surf culture, Afends’ mission is to create more sustainable clothing through innovation, action, and positive change. As true hemp advocates, it purchased 100 acres of farmland called Sleepy Hollow to grow its own hemp crops and ignite the hemp revolution.

Find most of the range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

Editor's note

Feature image via ILYSM, other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world's most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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